Nancy Nyman and Heather McNama are changing the lives of children in foster care and dispelling many of the myths about the foster care system, but not in the way you’d expect. They’re doing it through TV in a single camera half-hour comedy called “The F Word.”
Nyman and McNama, both writers, were married in October of 2014 and currently reside in Los Angeles. The moms know a little something about the foster care system, and write out of experience, as they foster three children, a 4-year-old boy, and two brothers ages 2 and 4. In the past, they also mentored an 18-year-old until he was 21, and are currently fostering siblings 19-year-old Angela and 12-year-old Jason, with the goal of adopting them.
So, what is “The F Word” about exactly? It follows a couple trying to build their family through the Los Angeles foster care system. The pilot got the attention of executive producer Kari Lizer, who created “The New Adventures of Old Christine.” Heather explained to The Huffington Post why there was so much interest immediately:
“When we wrote ‘The F Word’ there was this immediate interest because the stories are compelling and relevant. Writers and producers want to explore this area, but the system is complicated, and often there’s not enough time to research the particulars. That’s where we come in.”
The couple also went on to tackle a second foster TV pilot. The project, called “Social Work,” is an hour-long procedural that follows a Los Angeles County social worker as she navigates the foster care system to save kids. Nancy went on to add:
“The trend, unfortunately, is to portray the foster child as troubled, with bad behavior or mental illness. But there are so many other stories to tell.
Foster kids are regular targets for human trafficking, identity theft and bullying. In many cases, they’re shuffled from home to home with no opportunity to establish meaningful connections.”
As of now, Nancy and Heather are focusing on older children in foster care, because they tend to be the most at-risk for problems once they “age out” or leave the system as adults. Heather went on to explain why:
“The older kids can get bounced around a lot and that creates trust issues and problems in school. The big difference between older and younger kids is the older ones can articulate their problems, the difficulties they are having and what’s bothering them. Once you break through the trust issues, you can really have meaningful conversations and begin to address specific issues.”
It’s amazing to see such an important issue getting awareness in mainstream media, because the only way people learn about big issues, such as foster care, starts in their home, even if that means watching TV show. It’s a great way to start a conversation with kids, too, so they become more aware themselves.